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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for March 31

Read the complete transcript to Wednesday's show

Guests: John Q. Kelly, Bill Richardson; Susan Brenner; Marvin Benn, Count von Count


KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? 

Nightmare in Fallujah:  American civilians ambushed in Iraq, their bodies burned, hanged, dismembered, desecrated while cameras rolled and people cheered. 

The rare happy ending:  A missing University of Wisconsin student found alive nearly four days after she had been seen last, an apparent kidnapping. 

A new trial for the high doyen of household hints?  Just because one of the jurors padded his resume?  And a woman desperately trying to get on to the Scott Peterson jury?  What kind of world are we living in? 

The Donald may have to tell his copy right attorney:


OLBERMANN:  His bid to trademark that catchphrase may be derailed. 

And happy birthday to us? 

Who cares about sports anyway, you cheese eating surrender monkey. 

All that and more now on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Good evening.  We will not be showing you the bodies burning.  We will not show you the man using the pole to beat a charred corpse.  We will not broadcast the video of two bodies hanging from the entrance of a bridge.  We will not subject you to images of dismembered limbs hanging from where they were thrown from telephone wires, but in our fifth story in the COUNTDOWN tonight, all those things we choose to leave to your imagination and in your hands, all of those subhuman conducts happened today in Fallujah in Iraq.  Four American civilian contractors were killed there in a nightmare that evoked the desecration of the bodies of U.S. troops in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993.  In a moment, former Clinton cabinet member, now governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson on whether this video will impact American opinion or policy the way the images from Somalia once did.  First, the horror in Fallujah as reported by our Richard Engel—Richard.


RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Keith, while Fallujah has been no stranger to attacks, the violence there today and the celebrations afterwards have left many here disturbed. 

(voice-over):  9:30 a.m., driving down this road in the center of Fallujah, four Americans in two SUV‘s stuck in traffic, they‘re ambushed.  The four men, all civilians, ex-military, worked for a North Carolina firm Blackwater USA which provides security for the U.S. administration in Iraq. 

“Our armed brothers walked up to the cars and killed the people inside,” says this witness. 

But it didn‘t stop there.  Celebrations, the jubilant crowd honking their horns, the same way people here rejoice at weddings, set the SUV‘s on fire, then tied ropes around the charred bodies and dragged them through the streets and hung two of the Americans on a bridge.  As one witness said “like slaughtered sheep.” 

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, NBC NEWS MILITARY ANALYST:  We‘re seeing the face of the Sunni Muslim rebellion and it‘s an ugly one. 

ENGEL:  Just 12 miles north, more violence.  Five American soldiers were killed today when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb.  Why Fallujah?  Why does this city of 250,000 seethe with anger?  This Sunni Muslim stronghold prospered under fellow Sunni Saddam Hussein but now few people here have jobs and because of the constant violence, there‘s been little reconstruction. 

MCCAFFREY:  This is a part of the country that dominated and exploited all of Iraq for 35 years, and they don‘t want to give it up.

ENGEL:  A determined enemy made up of Saddam loyalists, tribal sheikhs, and foreign fighters, a volatile mix.  For the last year, Fallujah has been in the frontline in the war between insurgents and U.S. troops.  Last April 28, U.S. troops killed 13 demonstrators in front of a Fallujah school; they said they saw gunmen among the protesters. 

September 12, more resentment when U.S. soldiers accidentally killed eight Iraqi policemen. 

November 2, 16 U.S. Troops die when their helicopter is downed by a shoulder-launched missile. 

February 14, the insurgent‘s boldest attack yet, storming Fallujah‘s police station, killing 23 Iraqi policemen and freeing close to 90 prisoners. 

The U.S. Has changed tactics in Fallujah several times.  In September, the 82nd Airborne went in with an iron fist.  It didn‘t work.  Eventually they just stopped patrolling the city‘s center.  Last week, the Marines took over vowing to reach out to the people.  But violence, like this firefight, has spiked since then.  What now? 

BRIG.  GENERAL MARK KIMMITT, DEP.  DIR. COALITION OPS:  They will go in, they will restore order, and they‘ll put those people back in their place. 

ENGEL:  But for these soldiers, hardened after a year in Iraq, today‘s brutal attack reminded them of what they‘ve seen all too much of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I would be lying if I said that‘s the first time I‘ve seen that. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I just don‘t understand—you know, I just don‘t understand it.  We‘re here to help these people and, you know, I think we‘ve got to start somewhere, but I just don‘t think they get it. 

ENGEL:  Tonight it‘s difficult for many here to understand what happened today.  How a place even as violent as Fallujah could become so brutal.  Many Iraqis are shocked and embarrassed—Keith.


OLBERMANN:  Richard Engel reporting from Baghdad, many thanks.  The rest of the video will doubtless be available on the Internet.  That‘s your decision.  We offer only the caveat that the sites that may show it may or may not be as disturbed by those images, some in fact, may be reveling in it.  Enough has been shown, will be shown to give the awful flavor of the video when last Americans tasted that flavor we, as a people—as a government, reacted strongly. 

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico was a congressman then, before having joined the Clinton administration as an ambassador to the United Nations, in 1997.  He joins us now. 

Governor Richardson, thank you kindly for some of your time tonight. 

GOV.  BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO:  Thank you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Tell me what the Somalia video did to the countries and the government‘s perception of Americans being there and whether or not you think we will see the same thing after today‘s atrocities? 

RICHARDSON:  Well, I remember that Somalia video totally changed U.S.  policy, totally changed the perception in the Congress.  I was a congressman on the intelligence committee at the time.  It saw our inability to protect our own people.  Having seen this video today, it‘s like, unfortunately, deja vu with that huge cliche.  I think what it‘s going to show—and this is really not a time for politics, I think that the administration and the Congress have got to figure a way to better protect our people in Iraq.  It‘s obvious that we‘re not able to do it, that we have now got to find ways to bring in Muslim troops, bring the U.N., bring NATO in.  This is police work, this is internal Iraqi people who are having serious problems with a potential American occupation that they see as endless.  So, we have got to change our structure to simply protect our people and deal with the reconstruction and transition process a lot differently than we have, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  History now agrees that American policy in Vietnam changed

when television began to show what was happening there.  We‘ve already

talked about its influence in Somalia.  It‘s possible influence regarding

Iraq.  Can it be argued; shouldn‘t it be argued that this may be a bad

thing for this country, that policy could be unduly influenced by what is -

·         no matter how horrific it is, an event that is counter balanced by many successes and much progress in Iraq? 

RICHARDSON:  Well, there are successes in Iraq—the economy is starting to build up, schools are being started again, the Iraqi society has got a transition process.  You can‘t neglect those progress points, but what is happening, Keith, is American deaths continuing, the Iraqi people having difficulty accepting America there.  The U.N., not getting involved as much as it should because of fear of security and terrorist attacks, but most importantly, our government has an obligation to protect our own people, our own troops, our own men and women that are there, our own contractors, and this image on television is going to bring that fact and the question that‘s going to be asked is:  How can we guarantee better security for our people?  And I don‘t see any other way than—I‘m not saying pull out and run—cut and run, I‘m saying let‘s play start and let‘s recognize that possibly U.N. and Iraqi and other troops, Muslim troops can do the police work, the protection that is not happening today so that the Iraqi people accept an occupation that is not entirely American, that is an occupation that is broadly based with a lot of nations, and we have to do that.  We have to go to the United Nations immediately and seek broad authority for a broadly-based peacekeeping force. 

OLBERMANN:  The governor of New Mexico, former U.N. ambassador, former secretary of energy, Bill Richardson, many thanks for joining us tonight on COUNTDOWN.

RICHARDSON:  Thank you, Keith.  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  Continuing the fifth story, the hatred for Americans we saw in those pictures from Fallujah may not seem likely to be changed through advertising, but the U.S. is going to try that route.  Occupation authorities have signed British public relations firm Bell Pottinger to explain to Iraqis how and why Iraqi sovereignty will be returned to them in June.  The firm‘s biggest previous success, explaining to British voters how and why they should transfer power to Margaret Thatcher‘s conservative party in 1979.  One presumes they have not worked for British conservatives since they sank without a trace back in 1997. 

An occupation, meantime, the media planner says the new wave of TV and radio ads will bring “a message of participation in the democratic process and the hope for the future that democracy brings Iraq.”  They are hoping to have more success than a U.S. campaign to win hearts and minds across the Arab world in 2001, which includes ads like this:


RAWIA ISMA, SCHOOLTEACHER:  My name is Rawia Isma, I‘m a schoolteacher in a public school in the United States of America.  I wear a Hejab in the classroom where I teach.  I have never had any child who thought it was weird or anything like that. 


OLBERMANN:  Apparently in America, weird now means that you and your family are actually prepared in the event that al-Qaeda were to strike here again.  According to a “USA Today” Gallup Poll, just four in 10 now say that they have cashed food and water at home or designated a family contact person to call in case of disaster.  Those numbers were more like six in 10 last year.  And, no, the data was not obtained by tracking the decrease in sales of duct tape. 

COUNTDOWN underway tonight with the war on terror, primarily the grisly scene played out in Fallujah, today.  Up next out fifth story—fourth story, rather:  Donald Trump tried to stave off nearly $2 billion in debts over Casinos and also trying to stave off a Chicago ceramics store owner over trademarking that catch phrase “you‘re fired.” 

And later, the bizarre story of a missing Wisconsin student taking another unexpected twist.  Police find Audrey Seiler alive four days after she disappeared. 


OLBERMANN:  Tonight‘s No. 4 story straight ahead, the David and Goliath legal battle, perhaps, brewing over “The Apprentice” catchphrase, “you‘re fired.”  We‘ll introduce you to the small business woman who‘s taking on the big Donald—with big hair.


OLBERMANN:  In a moment, we‘ll find out why he may not be able to trademark the catchphrase “you‘re fired.”  Now we know why he wants to. 

Our fourth story in the COUNTDOWN:  As the bridge players say, “three not trump,” the Donald may be up to his hair in casino debts—you know, his day job.  The “New York Post” reporting that his auditors, yesterday, warned him that unless they are bailed out his Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts firm could go belly-up.  They are a billion-eight in the red.  Trump wants out of the casinos, if Credit Suisse First Boston will take care of the debt, he says he will exit stage right, saying to him self in essence, “you‘re fired.”

Now about that trademark and him trying to trademark the phrase from the NBC TV show “The Apprentice,” urban legends, at least the urban legends of Dayton, Ohio, tell us that the term “you‘re fired” dates back to the founder of the National Cash Register Corporation founder, John Patterson who is said to have notified his 1900 era executives, like Thomas Watson, that they were dismissed by literal setting their desks, or at least the contents of their desks, on fire. 

On the other hand, the Barnhart Dictionary of Entomology says that the term “you‘re fired” as in “we‘re throwing you out of the joint” is recorded in American English as far back as 1871.  In short, Trump did not invent it.  Glenview, Illinois, pottery shop called “You‘re Fired”, they didn‘t invent it either.  Susan Brenner has been using it though, for seven years now at, what is cleverly called a pottery and ceramics shop called “You‘re Fired”.  You get it?  For pottery—fire—pot—kiln.

Ms. Brenner says a friend helped her come up with the name of her shop

seven years ago.  She and her attorney are sending the Donald a letter

asking him to stop his plans for trademarking the two words because he

could hurt her livelihood

Joining us now is the owner of the ceramics and studio and pottery shop, “You‘re Fired”, Susan Brenner and her attorney, Marvin Benn, and we welcome you both. 

Ms. Brenner...


OLBERMANN:  ...let me start with you.  Give me the outline of what, here.  Is it OK for Frump to use “you‘re fired” as long as you can too, and as long as he doesn‘t use it for pottery and ceramics? 

BRENNER:  Well, first of all we didn‘t invent the name, but we made it a name, six or seven years ago.  The question again, is it OK for him to use, did you say? 

OLBERMANN:  Yeah.  As long as you can? 

BRENNER:  Yes, it is.  Yes, he can use it.  It‘s just that when it comes to—you know, t-shirts going in Bloomingdales and coming into the Chicagoland area, I mean, then it makes me pale and I lose control of the name that I‘ve had that is usually associated with pottery parties.  We‘re about pottery parties and mosaic parties and that type of thing.  There‘s kids running around, little league teams wearing our T-shirts with the numbers on the back and now they‘re going to say, “oh, Donald Trump.” 

OLBERMANN:  Mr. Benn, I know a little from trademark law, am I right about this, it pretty much all boils down to who got there first, I mean, at least in terms of a specific kind of business?  If I had opened a human cannonball service called “You‘re Fired” 10 years ago, Donald Trump could not take that away from me, right? 

MARVIN BENN, BRENNER‘S ATTORNEY:  Yeah, nor could we.  That‘s correct.  It‘s not—it‘s who is there first on what, in what place.  What geographic place did you develop the name and the goodwill, what products did you put it on.  We can‘t stop him from opening a casino in Indiana at all—under the name “You‘re Fired,” but we can stop him from selling T-shirts and pottery products or products that we would normally go into. 

OLBERMANN:  Mrs. Brenner, what happens—what happens, in effect, to your business if Donald Trump just fights you over this, let alone actually wins in court?  If he doesn‘t say, “yeah, I understand,” what happens? 

BRENNER:  Well, it would be devastating to me—you know, it‘s my whole livelihood, I would have nothing left, and I basically have a store with 2,000 square feet big—you know, and a small business that I started six years ago when my husband died to raise my daughter and I, my daughter Tatum, and support her, and we‘ve struggled, I‘ve put blood, sweat, and tears into the name, and it‘s all about art and it‘s all about pottery and it‘s all about mugs and T-shirts and fun and games and all this stuff, and it‘s in Chicago now. 

Now he‘s coming to Chicago, so it would not give me the control that I would want over the name and when I see it‘s being sold somewhere else and not—not helping me at all or my business, there‘s a lot of confusion about—from my customers.  I had an incident yesterday because of all the hoopla, we had two customers in the front and one of my staff kept coming to me saying they are really upset that you are using Donald Trump‘s name.  They were new.  And that clearly bothered me. 

OLBERMANN:  I can imagine it would.  Mr. Benn, last question here.  Is it—is there something fun, or the equivalent of it, to take on a Donald Trump in this situation, is it like stepping into a bullring perhaps? 

BENN:  No. Donald Trump is smart, he‘s got smart laws and he has competent trademark lawyers.  The law is black and white in this area, we‘ll reach an agreement. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, Ms. Brenner,

BENN:  They‘re not going to fight—I mean these...

OLBERMANN:  Ms. Brenner, you may have a store 2,000 feet big, but remember Mr. Trump has a lick of hair that‘s 2,000 square feet, as well. 

Susan Brenner, the owner of a “You‘re Fired” ceramics studio and pottery store in Glenview, Illinois, her attorney, Marvin Benn.  Many thanks to you both for coming on the show. 

BENN:  Thank you, Keith.

BRENNER:  Thank you very much. 

OLBERMANN:  Now four more things you should know about our No. 4 story.  Here are four more pottery shops that use puns in their titles:

No. 4 is: “Doin‘ Dishes” located in Montclair, New Jersey, if you‘re driving through. 

No. 3:  Same state, but in the town of Red Bank, “A Time to Kiln.”


No. 2:  “The Mad Potter” in Houston, Texas, and I believe there might be a Mark Potter run by NBC correspondent Mark Potter.

But No. 1:  In the heart of New York City, “Mud, Sweat, and Tears.” 

Mud, sweat, and tears.

Tonight‘s No. 4 story behind us, the flap over “you‘re fired.”  Straight ahead, the stories that didn‘t really make the front page but do jump, or explode, into the forefront of our minds because they‘re just so crazy.  “Oddball” right around the corner.  More things getting blowed up real good, but not on purpose this time. 

And later, the Martha Stewart trial, is it getting blowed up!  Stewart‘s lawyer is asking for a new one based on the past of one of the jurors.  Stand by.


OLBERMANN:  Time now to swerve off the superhighways of news, the concrete ribbons that bisect our national consciousness and take instead a leisurely drive along the country roads whence originate all the goofball stories, we bring you this time each night.  Let‘s play “Oddball.” 

And it starts more scary than odd.  A drunk driver on one of those roads in Kittery, Maine, drives into a gas station and we mean into one.  That‘s Aaron Montania who was pumping gas just 10 feet away with his wife sitting in the car when that explosion occurs.  They both escaped unharmed, but obviously shaken.  The driver 33-year-old John Harrington left the scene, drove to his home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, but followed the whole way by a witness who had seen this, called the cops, Harrington has been arrested. 

Two Covina, California, and an only slightly less dangerous situation.  The eighth grade class there had constructed a 20-foot high fully operational roller coaster in the school gymnasium.  They send the car down with an empty—you know, with a dummy on board, no kids actually rode the thing and here‘s why.  Oops.  F‘s for everybody.  Doesn‘t work. 

And you‘re looking at billionaire philanthropist, George Soros at a human right‘s conference in the Ukraine.  And, he‘s either so rich that he has a group of stuff members who follow him around with the sole purpose of wiping off his sweat, or he‘s just been attacked by a protester hurling mayonnaise.  Actually both are true.  A member of a radical nationalist party interrupted the conference, splattering the Hungarian born financier, and all around him with mayo, and not the low fat kind either.  The protester was subdued, dragged outside, and forced to make sandwiches for everybody. 

COUNTDOWN picking up again with our No. 3 story after the break.  Your preview:  The unexpected twist in the Wisconsin missing student drama.  Audrey Seiler arrested—or rather assaulted a month ago, vanished over the weekend, tonight on her way home.  Police try to connect the dots. 

And later, Mr. Jackson goes to Capitol Hill.  That‘ll would be Mr.

Michael Jackson.  A circus in D.C., next.

Those storied ahead, first here are COUNTDOWN‘s “Top 3 Newsmakers” of this day:

No. 3:  The Radio Flyer Company, the makers of those beloved kids little red wagons, they are joining the outsourcers.  They‘re closing their Chicago plant, firing 90, and they‘re going to make them in China from now on.  Thus, the instruction manual for the little red wagon becomes the little red book. 

No. 2 -- Thank your Mao fans.  Theme warning:  Kids.  Kids warning: 

Ionel (ph) Vlad.  A Romanian man, father of a 4-year-old boy, who since the boy‘s birth has been in court battling to gain permission to name his son Dracula, Dracula Vlad, why?  “Because someone,” says Dracula‘s father, “came to me in a dream.” 

Ah, sir, that was not Dracula, that was Angelina Jolie. 

And No. 1:  CeJay Bond of Carney, Nebraska.  CeJay is his 14-months-old and his parents are dim-bulbs.  The decided to convert a household item into CeJay‘s new nursery.  He is OK even though he got locked in it today, it was an eight foot by 10-foot safe.  Mr. and Mrs.  Bond say the safe came with their new house and they were told that the lock had been removed.  Of course, it never occurred to them to check before they put their baby inside it!


OLBERMANN:  For four days, the family and friends of missing University of Wisconsin student Audrey Seiler, with the help of local authorities, have searched desperately, all the while in the wake of a bizarre incident last month in which she was attacked, the possibilities of what might have happened to her turned nightmarishly in their minds. 

Our No. 3 on the COUNTDOWN tonight, the search is over.  The 20-year-old has been found alive and safe. 

Our correspondent Jeannie Ohm is in Madison, Wisconsin, with the still developing story. 

Jeannie, good evening.  What do we know so far? 


Well, what a dramatic turn of events in the last several hours. 

Audrey Seiler disappeared early Saturday morning, but she was found alive this afternoon.  Here‘s what we know so far.  An office worker looked outside and noticed a woman in a marshy area looking like she needed help.  When police responded, they immediately recognized it was the 20-year-old college student. 

At that time, they also got a description of the male in the area, a suspect, who was described as armed with a gun and a knife.  And police have been actively searching for that suspect in the same area where Audrey was found earlier this afternoon.  Now, a doctor who treated Audrey said she was doing remarkably well.  In fact, she‘s now been discharged from the hospital.  And the family is clearly thrilled to have their daughter back with them. 


KEITH SEILER, FATHER OF AUDREY:  Audrey is doing well.  She‘s happy to be back.  Needless to say, she‘s thrilled to be—to be home again with her family and friends. 


OHM:  Police are not revealing much information at this point to explain what happened to Audrey these last few days, but the doctor did reveal during the news conference that Audrey was achy.  She had been cold, because her muscles were also aching because she had been confined for a period of time, so that does give us some more indication of what may have happened to her.

But, again, police being tightlipped right now saying this is an active investigation, so, as one search ends, the other is now beginning for the suspect—Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Jeannie Ohm in Madison, Wisconsin, with the good news on that story, thanks very much. 

And with the kidnapping with the surprise happy ending to the case that may be coming back on us like bad diet soda or improperly cooked ham.  Just over three weeks since her conviction, surprise, Martha Stewart asking for a new trial, but for a very exotic reason, the request to revisit this case saying nothing about whether or not she lied at any point.  Instead, it‘s about the alleged falsification by one of the jurors who judged her. 

According to papers filed by her lawyer, Chappell Hartridge, a juror who spoke frequently after the trial, made several key omissions on his jury questionnaire.  In particular, he failed to reveal that he had been sued at least three times and was once accused of stealing from a little league group.  The filing also maintains that the 47-year-old juror had been arrested on an assault complaint that was later dropped. 

In that context, why would anybody deliberately try to get on a jury?  Attorneys for accused double murderer Scott Peterson say a prospective juror has lied to try to do just that.  According to the defense, during a recent bus trip, the unidentified woman allegedly told a fellow passenger that Peterson was—quote—“guilty as hell.”  She reportedly then went on to say that he would get what‘s due him. 

The woman, one of 300 people now being considered for the jury, denies the defense team account of the conversation and the charge that she lied, that she did so when she swore she had drawn no conclusions about the guilt or innocence of Peterson. 

For more now on the lies that jurors can tell, we‘re joined by John Q.  Kelly, former district attorney, also worked as the civil prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson case. 

Mr. Kelly, thanks again for your time. 


OLBERMANN:  Let‘s take Peterson first and then Stewart.  This terminology we heard today, stealth jurors, referring to the old lady in the Peterson case, explain that?  What is it?  How often is it? 

KELLY:  Well, actually it happens quite frequently on both sides of the coin.  And stealth jurors are either jurors that don‘t disclose things or conceal things to get off a jury or in this particular case the fear is that there are jurors that have preconceived notions of Peterson‘s guilt, but they don‘t want to reveal it ahead of time so they can get on the jury and then they can convict him and give him his comeuppance. 

OLBERMANN:  Is this black and white?  Can she have an opinion, but not an unshakable one?  Is there a line somewhere that defines when it‘s OK and when it‘s not? 

KELLY:  Sure, Keith.  No prospective jurors lives in a vacuum in this day and age.  And anybody that reads about these high-profile cases has some sort of an opinion or, you know, inclination going into these things. 

The question is whether ultimately they can—once—if they‘re seated on the jury have a fair and open mind, listen to the evidence and make the ultimate decision based on the evidence in court and not any preconceived notions. 

OLBERMANN:  Turning to the Stewart case, assuming that this Mr.  Hartridge left out a few things while filling out the juror‘s questionnaire.

KELLY:  Oops.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, oops.

But is that black and white, too?  Is that automatic grounds for a new trial? 

KELLY:  No, absolutely not.

First of all, it‘s rank speculation when Mr. Morvillo said he would have excluded him had he had that information in front of him.  We don‘t know that.  And secondly, there‘s no indication that these things were so prejudicial or had such an impact on the jurors‘ lives or opinions that it would have changed his opinion or, you know, he didn‘t deliberate fairly and impartially. 

OLBERMANN:  Martha Stewart was convicted 26 days ago.  Is it to be assumed now that if this is the best first thing about the trial that her defense could find that they are not working with very much in terms of trying to get some sort of outcome other than her going to prison? 

KELLY:  Well, I think that‘s right, Keith. 

It was a very cleanly tried case.  The judge, you know, played it right down the middle.  Martha had every opportunity to put on any defense she wanted.  There was a lot of preclusion as to the prosecution evidence.  The top count was dismissed before the end of the trial.  You know, it looks like this is the best she has.  And I don‘t think there is going to be any grounds to reverse this case.  We‘re not going to see it back here again. 

OLBERMANN:  We have a moment and we have another case that‘s going on.  I know we didn‘t plan on this, but we have another day in which the Tyco jury has stayed in.  They haven‘t been dismissed.  They still have the woman on there who gave the thumbs-up sign.  Could that jury sit until doomsday? 

KELLY:  No, they won‘t sit until doomsday, but they could be there another week or more.  I mean, until they indicate to the judge that they are definitely in an impasse and they‘re not going to be able to work out any differences there might be, the judge will let them keep deliberating. 

OLBERMANN:  And they can practice hand signals and shadow puppets on the wall of the jury room.

KELLY:  They got plenty of time. 

OLBERMANN:  They sure do, and, obviously, the ability to form and use their opposable thumbs.

John Q. Kelly, former New York district attorney, assistant district attorney, thanks again for joining us again, John. 

KELLY:  Sure, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  That rounds out the third story tonight.   

No. 2 on the COUNTDOWN, the arrival of a rival.  But can liberal radio be entertaining radio?  And later, a fidgety-gloved one in Washington, D.C.  Peekaboo.  I still see you, whether I want to or not.

But, first, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three sound bites of this day. 


THE ROCK, ACTOR:  Of course, that‘s a great part about the movie, about taking this four-by-four and giving these old-fashioned blue-collar (EXPLETIVE DELETED) whoopings with it. 

STEVIE NICKS, SINGER:  He could really just go up there by himself

with the guitar and do three hours, and I‘m going to cry because I really -

·         I adore him.  He‘s just dear to me.  I am.  I‘m going to cry now. 

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  You know, I love the game of baseball.  I grew up loving baseball.  I played little league baseball in Midland, Texas.  That‘s where I peaked. 


BUSH:  And I actually played for the Midland Cubs, except, unlike Ernie Banks, I was not known as Mr. Cub. 




OLBERMANN:  Up next on COUNTDOWN, the latest venture from the left, broadcasting to a vast network of over five radio stations around this country. 

Stand by for news.


OLBERMANN:  The best of the many jokes at the launch party in New York last night for the new liberal radio network Air America cannot be repeated here in full.  To try to translate it kind of in the broadest possible way, it was a double entendre referring in part to consuming the competition, it was a nuance of cannibalism, and it was directed against Ann Coulter. 

If the new network can get that joke on the air without getting the FCC on its backside, it might actually succeed.  If it tries to win just based on political screeds, it‘s going to go the way of the first all-sports network, Enterprise Radio, which, 24 years later, still owes several of my friends money.  Hi, Duke.

Our No. 2 story on the COUNTDOWN, on the air with Janeane Garofalo, Al Franken, Lizz Winstead, Marc Maron  and the boys and girls of Air America. 

Our correspondent is Carl Quintanilla. 


CARL QUINTANILLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  They say they‘re angry, disaffected and starting today, they were on the air. 

AL FRANKEN, COMEDIAN/AUTHOR:  Welcome to “The O‘Franken Factor.”

QUINTANILLA:  Comedian Al Franken and others part of a new liberal talk network called Air America, taking aim at conservatives like Bill O‘Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. 

FRANKEN:  I am the Rushbo, Rush Limbaugh. 

QUINTANILLA:  Highlighting the political media tug of war in this country that sometimes turns nasty. 

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS:  Shut up.  You had your 35 minutes.  Shut up.

FRANKEN:  This isn‘t your show, Bill. 

There was no question in my mind that this is the best thing I can do to rally troops, rally the, you know—it‘s OK to talk to the choir. 

QUINTANILLA:  That‘s exactly what happened during the Clinton years, when Limbaugh rose to fame, alleging a liberal mainstream media and energizing Republicans.

MICHAEL HARRISON, “TALKERS”:  People who are the conservative mind-set felt that, hey, the whole deck is stacked against us.  This form of radio really is the only place we can go to get our point of view. 

QUINTANILLA:  But liberals‘ attempts at radio, Mario Cuomo, Jerry Brown, haven‘t gone very far.  Conservative talk show host Michael Reagan says that‘s because liberals are too nuanced in their views to be provocative to listeners. 

MICHAEL REAGAN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  They listen to us because we‘re not boring.  And liberal radio tends to be boring, if you will. 

QUINTANILLA:  Boring or not, Air America is a tiny startup, sharing some cramped studios with an R&B station.  And while Limbaugh is on hundreds of stations nationwide, Air America is only on six. 

(on camera):  The network says it‘s aware of all those challenges and it insists this isn‘t a public service, but a calculated move to make a profit. 

EVAN COHEN, CHAIRMAN, AIR AMERICA:  You can drive a truck through the opportunity in this radio marketplace. 

QUINTANILLA:  Mark Walsh and Evan Cohen, two Democrats running the business, say they can sustain losses for years. 

MARK WALSH, CEO, AIR AMERICA:  Political talk radio for the last 25 years has been a very strong, viable economic business, and we‘re just tweaking the model a little bit. 

QUINTANILLA:  Giving Al Franken time to target the right, Air America just hopes somebody will be listening. 

Carl Quintanilla, NBC News, New York. 


OLBERMANN:  You‘re pinning the needles, boys.

Time now to tune into the news equivalent of top 40 in a segment we like to call “Keeping Tabs.” 

First up, the king of pop the king on the Hill.  Wearing his best sequined top, Michael Jackson joined several African ambassadors and U.S.  Representative Sheila Jackson Lee on the Hill tonight.  He was ostensibly there to talk about the AIDS epidemic in Africa, but he left the speaking to the others at the news conference.  He concentrated instead on the photography. 


REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS:  Who led many of these issues...

MICHAEL JACKSON, ENTERTAINER:  Please, please, please—I‘m sorry. 

I‘m sorry. 

LEE:  He‘s the director.  So, you have to understand, he is the director.  There you go. 


OLBERMANN:  Yes, he‘s the director. 

Though, apparently, Steven Spielberg is not the director.  The Oscar winner has turn down the opportunity to remake “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”  No word whether his disinterest had anything to do with the choice for reprising the star role, the timeless James Thurber creation of henpecked daydreams and a guy who lives all sorts of adventures through his fantasies.  Ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa.

The first film starred Danny Kaye in the title role.  This next one has already picked it star, subject to final script.  Walter Mitty, meet Jim Carrey. 

All right, let‘s see.  We‘ve had five, four, three, and two.  Must be time for tonight‘s No. 1 story of the COUNTDOWN next.  That process, by the way, will give you a hint to as our special guest.

But first, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top two photos of this day. 


OLBERMANN:  Oliver North, Paul Begala, Al Roker, Diane Dimond, Laurie Dhue, John McLaughlin, Ann Curry, what do these people and many, many more have in common?  They have all hosted shows on this network in the 8:00 p.m. Eastern time slot.  And, by God, I have outlasted them all. 

Our No. 1 story on the COUNTDOWN, COUNTDOWN.  Please indulge us for a little while.  Tonight is our first anniversary, and we wanted to celebrate, for a couple of minutes, anyway, because survival is a good thing. 

In a moment, the moments of the year of year one that made us happy. 

First, our special guest.  And only one guest could probably help us celebrate a full year of a show called COUNTDOWN, a newscast predicated on the first five digits.  He has been introducing America‘s children to those digits and several others since 1969.  His program, produced by the nonprofit Sesame Workshop, is coming up on its own anniversary next week.  We will talk about that in a moment. 

First, let me introducer from Sesame Street, the Count von Count. 


COUNT VON COUNT, SESAME STREET RESIDENT:  Oh, thank you so much, Keith.  It‘s my pleasure to be here. 

OLBERMANN:  It makes it special anniversary for us.  You know, you don‘t do a lot of appearances on newscasts, do you?

VON COUNT:  Only fast-breaking news stories on Sesame Street, you know the type of thing, big bad wolf, one, two three little pigs, that sort of thing. 

OLBERMANN:  So we thought, while you were here, on the anniversary, you might want to count a few things, since that is what you do.  And I know we could give you the list of all the shows that have been on in this time slot, but then we would have to preempt part of Deborah‘s show at 9:00.  So we don‘t want to do that.

Do you feel like counting cameras or counting the guys who are standing around here doing nothing or what? 

VON COUNT:  Keith, it‘s true, I love counting.  But tonight, I only count one thing.  I want to count one wonderful prime-time news anchor, you. 


OLBERMANN:  Well, thank you so much, Count.  It‘s an honor. 

And should we do anything special for that?  There‘s a bag underneath here that has an item in it.  Is that what we should be looking...  

VON COUNT:  Yes, that‘s true. 

OLBERMANN:  OK, wait a minute.  What doe we got here?

VON COUNT:  Since we are celebrating our 35th anniversary.


VON COUNT:  And you are celebrating your first, we thought it would be nice to bring you one, one, one, wonderful present.  


OLBERMANN:  OK, that‘s the first time that‘s ever happened here deliberately.  Let‘s—oh, look at this.  This is wonderful, Count.  Thank you.  Look, we have the No. 1.  How about that?  Perhaps for the rest of the show, I can wear it.  Is that what it‘s designed for? 

VON COUNT:  You could put it up anywhere you like. 

OLBERMANN:  I didn‘t know where you were going with that remark. 

The street on which you have lived, Sesame Street, 35 years...


OLBERMANN:  ... of teaching kids, that‘s a lot of counting, isn‘t it? 

VON COUNT:  Oh, 35 years, how the time flies when you‘re having fun counting.  Yes, it has been—yes, there have been many children that have passed by 35.  Some of them are 35 years old now. 

OLBERMANN:  I used to baby-sit my sister as we watched back in the very early days, when people were just discovering your street.  So it‘s a personal thing for us and we hope it‘s another 35 years.  You good for another 35 years? 

VON COUNT:  Me personally? 


VON COUNT:  I don‘t know, Keith.  I don‘t know.  Who knows what time will bring. 

OLBERMANN:  But you can...

VON COUNT:  I am down for it, though. 

OLBERMANN:  And you can count it all the way. 

VON COUNT:  Oh, certainly, yes. 

OLBERMANN:  All the way to 35.

VON COUNT:  That would be, yes, 70 years.  Oh, I love that, 70 years. 

OLBERMANN:  Seventy, 70.

The count from “Sesame Street,” celebrating 35 years with the PBS prime-time special, “Sesame Street Presents the Street We Live On” on April 4.  So thanks for coming in and helping us celebrate the birthday.  And happy birthday to all you guys on Sesame Street. 

VON COUNT:  Thank you.  And happy birthday to you, Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Thanks for the No. 1, our number of viewers. 

As I mentioned earlier, 365 days means a lot of shows, like 300 and something.  I don‘t have the exact count.  A lot of silly things have happened in those shows.  But I think I set the tone with the first words I spoke on the program one year ago tonight, a message of philosophy and perspective, of purpose of import, when I said to you—quote—“Good evening.”


OLBERMANN:  Keith is here, committed to making it all better. 

What would you think about taking a commercial right now?  They will be laughing, too, as they watch (UNINTELLIGIBLE) time and time again. 

VON COUNT:  One year of the COUNTDOWN, 366 days, a leap year. 

OLBERMANN:  What this is, is video of a bear falling out of a tree. 

Yogi, are you sure this will jump-start our comeback? 


Good evening. 

Screw “Harry Potter.” 

See, Tammy (ph) and Cheyenne Kowtzer (ph), along with surviving prairie dog Chuckles (ph).  And you saw Cheyenne pulled up a chair and joined us right in the middle of the interview outside the home in Wisconsin.  Oh, you better take care of her.  It never stops.  Thanks for your time. 

VON COUNT:  One Keith Olbermann. 

OLBERMANN:  Pompous, condescending hypocrite.

VON COUNT:  Two Keith Olbermanns. 

You never have the same opinion two days in a row. 

Like the stuff in your head. 

Who cares about sports, anyway, you cheese-eating surrender monkey. 

We‘ll call this what the president saw on his summer vacation.  The president and his wife both got a significant laugh out of the events that involved symbol of their political party.  And you know usually that would be a Democrat there on the front.

VON COUNT:  Three psychic little doggies. 

OLBERMANN:  Jacqueline Stallone of, along with Rachel (ph), Hannah (ph), and Friday (ph), who do not have their own individual Web sites.  Many thanks for the forecast.  We appreciate it. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Now, what kind of questions are you going to ask me? 

OLBERMANN:  All right, now, to fulfill our promise and introduce you to the candidate of the night. 

VON COUNT:  Four sausages racing.  Oh, three.  Oh, make that two sausages racing. 

OLBERMANN:  A supposed real estate customer asking an agent to show him a house in a secluded location in Glynn County, Georgia, then tying her up and robbing her.  But the part that touches on necessity being the mother of invention, that is unavoidably entertaining. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  There‘s only one thing I had that I could use, my tongue. 

OLBERMANN:  Thanks for sharing that. 

VON COUNT:  One cursed Chicago baseball. 

OLBERMANN:  They hit the ball real hard. 

VON COUNT:  No more cursed Chicago baseball. 

OLBERMANN:  We all knew government in California would change under Governor Schwarzenegger, but this is ridiculous. 

A group of visiting Chinese Buddhist monk martial arts masters invited Assemblyman Herb Wesson to raise taxes. 

I didn‘t want to do this, but they are asking me to ask you, can you give us 30 seconds of “She bangs” before we sign off the show? 

WILLIAM HUNG, SINGER:  Sure, since America likes to hear it, I guess. 

OLBERMANN:  Go ahead.

HUNG (singing):  She bangs, she bangs.  I‘m wasted by the way she moves, she moves. 

And can you feel the love tonight, how it‘s laid to rest. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing):  It‘s enough to make kings and vagabonds leave the very best. 


OLBERMANN:  Now, that‘s a newscast. 

One more thing you need to know about tonight‘s No. 1 story, if we last four months, if we make it to the 1st of August, we will have broken MSNBC record for the longest tenure at 8:00, which is held by “InterNight,” which ran from the network‘s debut in ‘96 through October of ‘97.  Second place, 14 months, is a tie between “The News With Brian Williams” and something called “The Big Show.”  Now, what the heck ever happened to the guy who was hosting that?

That‘s COUNTDOWN.  Today‘s show brought has been to you by the No. 1 and the letters K and O. 

I‘m Keith Olbermann.  Good night and a happy birthday to you.  And thank you very much.  And good luck. 


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